The Festive but Wild Wednesday offering this week is Season 02, Episode 05 of the 1951 hilarious TV show "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show."
This episode was appropriately named "Thanksgiving."
This episode starts with George and Gracie coming home from the grocery store, and George questioning why they had to go to the store on Thanksgiving, and Gracie explains that their neighbor Blanche went to the store for her the day before, so she's repaying the favor. Out of the two bags, Gracie only bought butter for herself, and that's how this show rolls. It's just one running gag to the next, tied together loosely as a story!
Before George could get into the house, Blanche's husband Harry shows up and tries to convince George to bet on a horse with 60 to1 odds named Linda Lee. Harry just knows it's going to win because his business partner has a girlfriend named Linda Lee. George tells Harry that he only bets on long shots, and an episode long gag ensues. Harry Morton was played by Fred (Zotz!, Visit To A Small Planet) Clark. Fred was also in "The Twilight Zone" episode "A Most Unusual Camera," and was Dr. Roy Clyburn on five episodes of "The Beverly Hillbillies."
The set for the show was unique with George being able to step right out of the room to talk to the audience! George Burns' delivery is always classic!
Gracie Allen is funnier than Hell, and is so ditzy, she makes Lucille Ball look like a Rocket Surgeon! A master of one-liners, you never have a clue what she's going to say. Here she's talking to her Mom. Her Mother and her put their turkeys in the oven at the same time, and then the Mother calls Gracie and lets her know when the bird is ready!
Charles Lane as Joe Crawford comes to deliver George a box of cigars, and while he's waiting for the cup of coffee Gracie offers him, she puts him to work peeling potatoes.
Charles Lane had 374 credits to his name, and acted from 1930 to 1995. Just a couple of roles he had were Mr. Bevis in "The Twilight Zone" episode called "Mr. Peckinpaugh," and he was also the Doctor in one of my favourite films, "Kiss Me Deadly."
Charles lived to be 102 years old! What a guy!
Blanche Morton was played by Bea Benaderet. After Gracie gets involved, there's a big mix-up between Linda Lee the horse and Linda Lee the person, and Blanche is led to believe that Harry is having an affair, but it all gets straightened out! Bea was originally asked to play Ethel Mertz but had to decline because she was already doing this show. Bea started in radio, and ended up doing a lot of voice over work for Warner Brothers cartoons. She did female voices that Mel Blanc couldn't do like Granny and Witch Hazel. She was also the voice of Betty Rumble on "The Flinstones." If that wasn't enough, Bea also played Kate Bradley on 174 episodes of "Petticoat Junction."
Also invited to Thanksgiving dinner are James (Port Sinister) Warren as Casey, and Gerry Cameron as the racy Linda Lee in her only appearance ever.
The announcer on the show was also a friend of the family named Harry von Zell. As a radio announcer, Harry made one of the greatest bloopers of all time calling President Herbert Hoover, "Hoobert Heever."
The sponsor of the show was Carnation evaporated milk, and instead of breaking to commercial, they brilliantly work it into the story of the show in between jokes!
So give thanks that we have access to such great entertainment since a lot of people can't celebrate Thanksgiving properly this year, but you can still watch this and some other Thanksgiving specials for free like "Edgar Bergen with Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd," and the great Tex Avery cartoon "Jerky Turkey" right HERE!